Malaysia financier faces new charges in 1MDB scandal

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho is facing new charges of laundering more than USD1.0 billion, in a massive corruption scandal surrounding state fund 1MDB, police said yesterday.

The extraordinary 1MDB controversy allegedly saw billions looted from a Malaysian government investment fund, fuelling a worldwide spending spree including on super yachts and Van Gogh artwork.

Low, commonly known as Jho Low, is accused of playing a central role in plundering the investment fund.

He was an associate of Malaysia’s former leader Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, whose government lost power in May in large part due to allegations that the then premier was involved in the vast fraud.

Since being ousted, Najib has been hit with a barrage of charges linked to the scandal. He denies any wrongdoing.

Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho. – AP

The new money laundering charges, allegedly committed between 2009 and 2014, were filed in a court in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Besides Low, 37, four others linked to 1MDB including a business development manager and a finance director were also hit with charges including criminal breach of trust.

“An arrest warrant has been obtained from the court and efforts are being intensified to arrest the five individuals who have left Malaysia,” Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement.

The additional charges include five for allegedly laundering USD1.03 billion and another two for laundering USD126 million.

In the past, Malaysian officials have said that Low could be holed up in China after he fled Macau, where he was last known to be. The fugitive financier said through his spokesman on Tuesday that he was innocent, adding that he will “not submit to any jurisdiction where guilt has been predetermined by politics and there is no independent legal process”.

Malaysian police in August had filed eight charges against Low and one against his father Low Hock Peng, all related to money laundering.

Last month the US Justice Department also announced charges against Low, an alleged mastermind and an intermediary to the Malaysian fund.